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photo of open bottle of anti-anxiety prescription drugs

Anti-anxiety drug addiction to sedatives and other medications can occur from legitimate prescriptions for certain medical or psychiatric conditions. Alternatively, one may become addicted to these medications by borrowing from a friend or family member, or from buying them illegally on the street.

Since these medications are not as tightly controlled by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) as some other medications, such as opiates, access may be easier. Further, since benzos and barbiturates are widely prescribed, and effective, for a variety of medical and psychiatric conditions, they are prevalent in the community.

The addictive medications that fall into this class include benzodiazepines (benzos), barbiturates, and benzodiazepine-like medications. The following list includes several prescription medications that are addictive, and fall into the anti-anxiety or sedative categories.

Benzodiazepines for Anxiety

Xanax – alprazolam
Ativan – lorazepam
Valium – diazepam
Klonopin – clonazepam
Serax – oxazepam
Librium – chlordiazepoxide

Benzodiazepine (Benzo) – Like Drugs

Ambien – zolpidem
Sonata – zalephlon
Lunesta – eszopiclone
Imovane – zopiclone

Benzodiazepines (Benzos) for Insomnia

Pro-Som – estazolam
Rohypnol – flunitrazepam
Restoril – temazepam
Halcion – triazolam
Dalmane – flurazepam


Lumninal – phenobarbital
Nembutal – pentobarbital
Amytal – amobarbital
Butisol – butobarbital
Seconal – secobarbital
Prominal – methylophenobarbital
Fioricet and Fiorinal – butalbital

Sedatives and anti-anxiety prescription drug addiction is prevalent because these drugs are prescribed for multiple medical and psychiatric purposes, such as:


  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Other mood disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Anesthesia
  • Agitation
photo of prescription pills over doctors RX pad

A prescription drug addiction to these medications occurs when one develops tolerance to the medication and begins to again experience the initial symptoms that prompted the first prescription of the medication. For example, when one begins to take Xanax for anxiety, tolerance will develop. Once that starts, the person’s anxiety may return and they could need an increased dosage to get the anxiety relief that they expect. In this way a vicious cycle occurs, whereby the anxiety returns and the dosage is increased yet again.

When the person tries to stop the use, or decrease the use of the prescription drug, the anxiety returns at an even greater level than the initial anxiety that was experienced prior to the initiation of treatment.

The same can be said of the treatment of insomnia. The sedatives that are used for insomnia are meant to be used short-term. Instead, some stay on the medications for an extended period and end up needed increased dosages to treat his/her insomnia. Once this occurs, tolerance will occur and ever-increasing dosages may be needed to treat the insomnia.

If the person taking prescription drugs for the treatment of insomnia stops taking the medication, a rebound insomnia will occur. The insomnia experienced now will be worse than the insomnia that was experienced prior to the initiation of treatment.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

Because with withdrawal from benzos and barbiturates can be life-threatening, when one is suffering from a prescription drug addiction from benzos or barbiturates, it’s imperative that the medications be tapered, rather than abruptly discontinued. Additionally, the symptoms that are experienced during the withdrawal period may be intolerable.

Professional help is available for the treatment of prescription drug addiction. In fact, it may be necessary to enter an inpatient or residential drug detox center to treat the withdrawal. Following drug detox, further treatment should be considered in a drug and alcohol treatment center, so that the underlying condition(s) that prompted the addiction can be addressed.

In drug and alcohol rehab, the addicted person can learn how to use alternative means to deal with stress, insomnia and other life issues that could prompt a relapse. Also available in drug rehab are case management services, which will ensure that the patient will have all necessary services arranged prior to returning home. An aggressive drug and alcohol relapse prevention plan is an important part of establishing long-term recovery.

If you, or a loved one, is suffering from a prescription drug addiction, Behavioral Wellness and Recovery can assist you in locating resources that can help you re-establish a healthy, peaceful life. You can either complete the online contact form, or call us at 800-683-4457. Our staff is available 24/7 and will always confidentially maintain any information that is shared with our team.


Behavioral Wellness & Recovery is a Joint Commission accredited program. The Joint Commission recognizes excellence in health care organizations and programs.


Behavioral Wellness & Recovery is a Joint Commission accredited program. The Joint Commission recognizes excellence in health care organizations and programs.

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